A print, measuring 205 x 255 mm, from a negative made from glass in the Church Missionary Society collection (which was given to the RCS Library in 1988). Two same size (one reversed) and three smaller copies are included in this collection. This appears to be the only photograph of the two men together (apart from larger groups) and is thus of particular interest.
Alexander Garden Fraser (1873-1962) was the first Principal (1924-1935) of Achimota College in the Gold Coast, and James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey (1875-1927), its Vice-Principal. Together with Governor Sir Gordon Guggisberg, they are regarded as the founders of Achimota.
Fraser and Aggrey first met in January 1924 at the home of Dr. J.H. Oldham at Chipstead in Surrey. Oldham recalled his conversation with Aggrey on the proposed Achimota College:
'We started discussing people, and I sounded Aggrey on the names of several people who had been mentioned as possible Headmasters. He shook his head in each case. Then I said to him, 'Would you go with Fraser?' He said 'Oh yes, I'd go with Fraser!' I said 'What in the world do you know about Fraser that makes you so confident about him when you have been so doubtful about all the other people?' He said 'Don't you remember that four years ago we lunched at a restaurant in Soho, Mr. and Mrs. Fraser and you and your wife, before going to a matinée?' And I said, 'Do you mean to tell me, Aggrey, that on the strength of a lunch four years ago, you are absolutely clear that you would go with Fraser?' 'Yes,' he said; 'absolutely clear.' 'All right!' I said; and I went into the other room where the telephone was. Alek was at Oxford, and I wired, 'Can you come for the week-end to meet Aggrey?' And he did. He came on the Saturday, and they went out for a walk on the Sunday afternoon; and they came back to say they would go.'. (Ward 1965, p.169).
This photograph shows the two men standing probably in a garden, and may have been taken on this occasion. Aggrey was out of England for several months in 1924, and in October sailed for the Gold Coast with Fraser and other members of the pioneer staff. Aggrey was absent from the Gold Coast July-November 1925, and Fraser from May-October 1925 and June-September 1926; the photograph could have been taken outside those dates, but the setting looks English rather than African.
Aggrey died in the USA on 30 July 1927, and Fraser wrote:
'Williams could fill my place. No one can fill Aggrey's. It was he who persuaded me to go to Achimota in the first place, and I made it a condition of my going that he should come with me and help me to know the people and their outlook. He came at pecuniary loss, to begin with, and nobly he did his special work. He had marvellous power over people. It was not only his great oratorial gifts and sparkling kindly humour, but it was his transparent sincerity, his intense belief in them, his ardent love of Africa, and his flaming purity ... I have often been asked if Aggrey was worth it. If Achimota has caught the imagination of West Africa today, and I believe it has, it is due to Aggrey more than any other six men ... In Achimota we lose more than we can yet understand. But of the many good things I have been freely given in life, one of the best is the intimate friendship given me by Aggrey'. (Ward 1965, p.227).